“Your mind might slip to a worse state if you’re so stressed. Don’t overwork yourself, Shance-san.”
I followed the novels and the first season of To Aru Majutsu No Index (or just Index) as well as the spinoff To Aru Kagaku No Railgun (or just Railgun), so it was only natural that I anticipated the news of a second season for Index. That being said, I am currently satisfied with how Index S2 is going.
What really got my attention on the first episode was the use of Japanese cultural traditions and artifacts. A bowman by the name of Yamisaka Ouma tries to retrieve a volume from Index’s library by using a crudely made Kagura stage and a Japanese artifact, the sacred Azusa-Yumi. The bowman said that if certain conditions are met, he can use the Azusa-Yumi to invade Index’s mind as if he were to possess her, therefore letting him retrieve the volume he needs. He never succeeded though, due to the poisonous properties of the grimoires, which can kill someone if they were to even touch a single book.
To analyze the ritual, let’s take a look at the elements used:
The Kagura stage.
The Kagura stage is, like what it says, a stage for Kagura, a theatrical play addressed to the gods. Shinto religion states that the stage dates back to the creation of Japan, where the gods created an impromptu stage using an overturned wash basin for dancing and merrymaking in order to draw out the Sun Goddess Amaterasu from hiding.
The Azusa-Yumi. Note that a black bow signifies female energy, which brings me to question as to why a male magician is using it.
On the other hand, the Azusa-Yumi is a ceremonial bow rumored to have been used by the great grandson of Amaterasu, Jimmu Tenno. It is said that the bow has the power to recognize and dispel evil spirits by simply plucking its string. Some also say that when played, it has the power to invoke the spells of shrine maidens for spiritual communication.
Now, to theoretically explain Ouma’s ritual. The Kagura stage, being a catalyst for a ritual (or “play”) addressed to the gods, amplified the holy power of the Azusa-Yumi by drawing out the power (or “attention”) of the gods. The Azusa-Yumi’s was then strengthened to the point where the person who invokes the ritual can spiritually transcend and thus acquire the ability to enter another individual’s subconscious, if not outright possess the individual. If the bow can commune with spirits, then it can also possess people spiritually once the bow’s power is amplified, which explains the ritual’s purpose: To invade the mind of a person to access the person’s memories. However, it is also interesting to note that while Ouma’s mind was invading Index’s, Index is still conscious. Index was also able to access Ouma’s memories, which means that the bow’s power applies not just to the person who invoked the ritual, but also to the target person of the ritual.
And there you have it! I hope this clears up any confusion anything concerning cultural traditions in the first episode. And yes, I do expect Index S2 to deliver much, much more on its future episodes. Hopefully, it doesn’t confuse the fans with all the arcane stuff flying around.
And uh, I’m no Shintoist. Please go easy on me with the comments about religion and the theories…
A page containing a brief description of two of Japan’s sacred bows:
Very nice articles about Kagura, which of course includes the stage and other artifacts essential to the play: